MrsPdubyah had a call from Honda NZ, “would we please go drive one of their new cars?” She declined but knowing I’m an easy touch made them ring me. Of course yes, I’m always a bit keen for a bit of a thing.
They offered the Insight, I laughed, but I did say that I’d be keen on the Honda CR-Z, and so it came to pass, for a jolly entertaining and rewarding hour.
They had a white one available so I sat myself in had the pre-flight lecture and took off.
Initial thoughts: There are a few things missing inside, like an arm-rest – which is a big deal if you’re a commuter having to sit for an hour or more in traffic, somewhere to rest your arm is important – to me. And the view from the rear-view mirror is somewhat obstructed by the strange high boot lid design, not the end of the world, but restricted.
The steering wheel was a confusion of switches and buttons, some not so easy to get to, and some that did things that I didn’t really get.
The dashboard! What can I tell you! it was like being in Tron – the movie.
The rev counter / speedo came in glorious blue. If you’re being frugal the circle around the speed indicators turns green, if you’re driving it with a lead foot it goes red, mostly it stays blue, a veritable disco dashboard.
The CR-Z has heaps of in drive view options on the dashboard if you keep tapping the buttons, some I got - like distance travelled, average speed, but others not so much, technology for the sake of it, or that fact that I hadn’t read the user encyclopedia. I had a look at it, not in it.
You can select – on the move – one of three drive modes, Eco, Normal and Sport. And the computer sorts it out. Accelerator bursts of energy are augmented from the battery – oh yeah it’s a hybrid – should you need it, and it has a flappy paddle gearbox.
In the Eco/Normal mode if you flip the flappy paddle, say to change gear to overtake, it changes to that gear for 90 seconds before reverting back to automatic mode. In sport if you change gears with the flappy paddle then you’re driving it in manual mode, it doesn’t switch back (I’m sure it has over-rides to make sure it doesn’t blow up). Very trick, 7 gears, very smooth, and very fast. Very fast.
And talk about economical – I drove it a bit harsh and it peaked at 5.9 liters per 100 kms. No wonder it’s only a 40 litre tank! I could get used to that economy on the commute.
Weirdest feature – the auto-stop. Honda have the technology that cuts the engine when you stop at a junction or lights, release your foot from the brake and it’s instant on and away you go, not ideal in some circumstance but interesting, very trick, and a bit confusing at first.
Worst thing – it has 4 seats, and unless your passenger has no legs – no way – not ever- would you get anyone else in the back of the car. Worst thing (2) I have no idea where the front of the car was, it disappears over the front of the bonnet somewhere into neverland. I didn’t even attempt to reverse.
Missing Feature: no GPS. I’m sure it’ll get one eventually, but for the sake of a couple hundred dollars it seems a little odd.
Would I buy one? at $45,000 it’s a big ask, but if you do it’d be very rewarding to drive, it handles surprisingly well, and it would be cheap to fill and run. Is it practical? not for a family man no. Unlike other Honda cars I’ve driven this one has a bit of personality and verve. It’s looks will not suit everyone and is controversial, but then that’s never stopped Honda in the past.
The Honda CR-Z then, 8 arbitrary stars out of 10 arbitrary stars, drive one you’ll get it.